Government MPs cross the floor

The MP’s who opposed the legislation were Petro Georgiou, Russell Broadbent and Judy Moylan.

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A fourth dissenting Liberal MP, Bruce Baird, appears to have heeded Prime Minister John Howard’s plea to abstain from the vote rather than side with Labor.

Despite the three MP’s opposition to the bill, it passed the lower house and will now go to the Senate where it’s expected the legislation will go to a vote next week.

The government has a slim majority of one in the Senate.

Liberal senator Judith Troeth has signalled that she will follow the lead of Mr Georgiou, Mr Broadbent and Ms Moylan and cross the floor.

The legislation could also face opposition from Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce.

Family First undecided

Meanwhile Family First senator Steve Fielding has emerged from talks with Mr Howard, saying he is still undecided about how he will vote on controversial immigration laws.

Senator Fielding met with Indonesian ambassador Mohammad Hamzah Thayeb in Canberra this morning and said today he and his wife would meet with the Papuan community tomorrow to hear their views, but he still had not made up his mind about whether to support the bill when it reached the Senate.

He also insisted he would not do a deal with the government to secure his vote.

“Family First does not do deals,” Senator Fielding added.

The government drafted the new immigration legislation after Indonesia complained about Australia’s decision to grant asylum to 42 asylum seekers from the contested Papua province earlier this year.

If any two of three senators – Troeth, Joyce and Fielding – voted against the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill in the Senate, the vote would be tied and therefore lost.

This morning, Mr Howard said the government was not contemplating any further amendments to get the legislation through the Senate.